Sprint had a pretty interesting year. They started the year with a new owner, in Softbank. They tried to merge with T-Mobile US, and pulled out, and also got a new CEO. All that in just a year, pretty crazy, right? Well we're going to grade the carrier in a few areas and see how they can improve in 2015. We're grading all of the major US carriers this week, that includes Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile.
As with any carrier, coverage is judged by location. This year I did a lot more traveling then in previous years, and I have to say, Sprint's coverage is good in some cities but not in others. For example, some parts of NYC, Sprint has great coverage and great speeds, other areas it's "searching for network". Which is just sad in a city that is that big. At home, here in Detroit, Sprint has improved. I will definitely give them that, but it's not good enough for me to make the switch just yet.
As far as data speeds go, the highest I've seen is 14mbps. Now yes that is enough for browsing and such. But when you can go from 14mbps to 1mbps by walking 10 feet in one direction, the network has some issues. Sprint is supposedly ramping up Spark rollout in 2015, and I definitely can't wait for that. But at this point their network just isn't that good. And unless they are good in your area it's really tough to recommend them.
Now we're going to take a look at cold hard numbers. So Sprint's quarters are a bit different from other companies. Their fourth quarter of 2013 ended on March, with their First quarter starting in April and lasting through June, and Second Fiscal Quarter starting in July and going through September. So for the fourth quarter of Fiscal year 2013, Sprint had a net loss of 231,00 customers. Which is definitely not good. In the first quarter of fiscal year 2014, Sprint had a net loss of 220,000 customers. A slight better number then the previous quarter, but not good enough. Finally in the second quarter of the fiscal year 2014, Sprint added 590,000 customers. Which is a pretty substantial turnaround from the previous few quarters. Which is great for Sprint.
With Sprint being a CDMA carrier, and one of the smaller carriers at that, sometimes they have issues with getting great devices on their network. However, in 2014 they had some pretty amazing devices on the NOW Network. That includes the Sharp Aquos Crystal, the HTC One E8, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport. That's in addition to the flagships that hit every carrier like the HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge and the LG G3. So Sprint did pretty well with bringing in new devices to their network and giving customers an adequate selection of phones to choose from.
Sprint did a lot of changes with their plan prices this year, especially after Dan Hesse was let go from the CEO post, and Marcelo Claure took over. So we'll look at the current price for an individual plan with unlimited data. With unlimited calls, texts and data, you will pay $60/month. Now if you're using Sprint Easy Pay, it'll be slightly more. You also need to factor in taxes and such. So they have gone down, quite a bit over the past year. Which is great for their customers.
Network/Coverage – D
Customer Additions – C
Device Availability – B
Plan Prices – A
Final Grade – C
Sprint has made some great strides in 2014, and it appears they are going to be making even more in 2015. But first and foremost they need to get their network situation figured out. One of the big issues is that there are so many people on the network – as well as so many MVNO's using it – and not a whole lot of low-band spectrum. They are just now being able to use the 800MHz spectrum from the Nextel purchase years ago. That is legitimately my only gripe about Sprint right now, their network. Their prices are great now, and so is their device selection. If I were thinking of switching over to Sprint for my personal phone, I'd definitely be checking them out in the next 6 months. Hopefully they'll do something like T-Mobile's Test Drive so we can check out their network before signing up on a 2-year contract.